- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Science is built with facts as a house is with stones — but a collection of facts is no more science than a heap of stones is a house.” Jules Henri Poincare

As a foremost scientist, Poincare understood the brilliance of empirical science came not from collecting facts and making conclusions but from arranging facts into hypotheses, testing these hypotheses continuously, and from these creating theories to explain nature. If the hypotheses or theories fail any tests, they are wrong and need to be changed.

Continuous questioning and testing of hypotheses and theories by observation and experiment is the great process that separates empirical science from other forms of thinking. Using these principles we explore the laws of nature and accomplish great tasks, such as landing a man on the moon.

Unfortunately, many do not understand these vital principles, ignore them, or twist them for their own purposes. This is most obvious among those who claim man’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases cause unprecedented and dangerous global warming and climate change.

Drawn by massive government funding, some in positions of trust are willing to ignore or twist principles of empirical science to achieve their political objectives — the extent to which is clearly illustrated by the Summary for Policymakers of the report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). This document has little to do with empirical science, but is directed toward control of human behavior as demanded by international organizations, governments, and special interest groups.

Claiming the Summary is a consensus of scientists no more meaningful than saying 16th-century scientists concurred the Earth is the center of the universe, the heavens revolve around it and the sun is immutable.

The first Summary, 1990, contained a graph demonstrating knowledge of temperature trends of the last 1,000 years. It showed a Medieval Warm Period that was at least as warm as today, the Little Ice Age which was considerably cooler, and the current warming. By the third Summary, 2001, the IPCC dispensed with the knowledge of climate and temperature change by substituting computer model results to claim that compared to the past 1,000 years the current warming is unusual and unprecedented. The model was completely discredited but the distorted image remains.

The fourth Summary, 2007, makes no mention of the discredited model nor does it present knowledge of climate history and temperature trends — although those presented in the first Summary have been reinforced by further research. Instead, this Summary relies on unrelated assertions, many of them questionable, some questionable graphs, and the results of computer models. Using Poincare’s standard, the Summary is no more science than a pile of stones is a house.

Rather than fruitlessly illustrate the many questionable and erroneous claims in the Summary, it is more illuminating to demonstrate what is it lacks to be empirical science. There is no rigorous presentation of our knowledge of climate or temperature trends for the last 10,000 or 1,000 years; how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere influenced these trends; laboratory tests showing the extent to which greenhouse warming will increase by adding carbon dioxide to the present atmosphere, or the theory that man’s emissions of carbon dioxide are causing unprecedented and dangerous global warming and climate change. Had any of these been presented, the theory would have been exposed as false.

Instead of rigorously tested hypotheses, the Summary relies on models projecting 100 years hence but which cannot explain temperature trends for the last 10 years — much less the last 100, 1000, or 10,000 years: a pile of stones.

In his Oscar winning film, Al Gore concludes that ice core borings prove changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations cause temperature changes. However, careful measurements showcarbon dioxide concentrations change centuries after changes in temperatures, and thus cannot cause them.

Apparently, Mr. Gore and his experts do not understand the vital importance of time sequence in establishing causation. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore’s film is touted in schools throughout the nation as “science.”

The greatest threat to empirical science is posed by those who misuse positions of trust to recite scientific principles without applying them, refuse to skeptically examine studies that support their claims, ignore studies that rebut their claims, assail those who are skeptical; yet fail to produce compelling scientific hypotheses supporting their claims. In short, they distort empirical science.

KENNETH A. HAAPALA

Fairfax, Va.


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